Hidden Figures (2016)
This film is about three Black women who have been erased from our story of the Space Race between the USA and the USSR. The efforts of these women, and other People of Colour at NASA, were indispensable during this time, and went beyond menial labor and actually made the rocket launches possible and moved NASA’s technology forward. The film also reproaches whitewashed nostalgia, noting the personal lives and struggles of these Black scientists. And though there are a few historically inaccurate pushes of white savior-ism, the women are never passive and consistently push themselves and those around them to do better. In Hidden Figures, we get to watch these Black women succeed, which is a joy.
Other Recommendations: Battle of the Sexes, On the Basis of Sex.
Obvious Child (2014)
This film follows a struggling comedian who has a one night stand, ends up pregnant and decides to have an abortion. Jenny Slate’s character breaks away from trends like Knocked Up and Juno, where unexpected and unwanted pregnancies are carried to full term, and the more realistic option of abortion is never seriously considered. At first, I worried it would end with her ‘coming to her senses’ and not getting the abortion she clearly wanted, but I was happy to find that she stuck to her guns. It is a warm film whose main character is repeatedly conflicted about her pregnancy and her life, a little sad, but with a sweet ending.
Other Recommendations: The Help, Thelma and Louise.
This film follows Cher, a girl with a lot of privilege, being white, straight, cis, and extremely wealthy. She tries to do good, mostly misguidedly, taking new-girl Tai under her wing, taking rejection from Christian in stride, not caring about him being gay. She sees how her actions affect people and uses her wealth and her sway within the school to carry out a fundraiser. Clueless also touches on the normalization of difference in choice of sexual autonomy, with the female friends generally not judging one another’s choices with more than gentle teasing. There is also a consistent focus on the importance of consent, a far cry from its 80s rom-com predecessors. A feel-good, iconic rom-com.
Other Recommendations: Bend it like Beckham, Booksmart.
This film is the story of the working-class women who risked their relationships, their reputations, and their lives to fight for their right to vote. It showcases the frustration of these women and the backlash that resulted from their fight. It’s a harrowingly realistic portrayal of what women went through, including their arrests and subsequent hunger strikes. Suffragette does somewhat fail in the intersectionality sector, not including Women of Colour’s important involvement in the movement and them being subsequently left out of the legislation. This film lights a fire under the watcher, filling them with a desire to change the world, a wish for revolution. Get ready to write your manifesto.
Other Recommendations: Captain Marvel, Knock Down The House.
Little Women (2019)
This film follows the lives of 4 sisters living, detailing how the essence of feminism is about choice, and we can see that in the March sisters. Each sister has different aspirations and generally feels little guilt about their individual choices. Little Women is a warm-hearted period drama about sisterhood and growing from girls into women. The sisters all make choices that they demand and expect to be respected by their sisters, with two sisters choosing to get married, one for love and one for financial security for her family. In contrast, the main character Jo decides to pursue her career. Greta Gerwig’s instant icon tackles love and loss and heartbreak, all while making you fall in love with Amy! Groundbreaking!
Other Recommendations: Belle, She’s Out of My League.
*These films have many flaws. Some are products of their time, while others merely focus on one aspect of women’s lives rather than being intersectional. They are steps in the right direction, and proof that Hollywood can keep doing better*